The hunt for Toronto’s best roti

Get that potent packet of tasty eats at hot spots all over town


Top 15 Boneless Chicken Rotis

1. Caribbean Dutchpot

749 Broadview, at Danforth, 416-465-7779.

Remember this long-gone Leslieville eatery? They said they’d be back, and here they are – five years later – in a brand-spanking-new storefront just south of the Greek main drag. The joint might be somewhat swankier, but the rotis are still the real deal, oh so delicate dal puri rotis spilling tender-pink Guyanese-style chicken and a mere smidgeon of spuds, with just the right spice. We have a winner!

Boneless chicken roti: $6.99/26 ounces

Sunday to Thursday 11 am to 11 pm, Friday 11 am to 9 pm. Closed Saturday. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free.

2. Pam’s Caribbean Cuisine

912 Bloor W, at Ossington, 416-533-3588.

Pam Singh isn’t kidding when she says her Bloordale hole-in-the-wall specializes in “not-so-fast takeout.” “Ten minutes, hon” often turns into 45. But it’s worth the wait when the payoff is this spectacular – witness Guyanese-style parathas stuffed with shredded chicken and pulverized potato laced with chilies. Intensify the heat with three levels of house-made hot sauce. Bonus: eat-in orders get salad, too!

Boneless chicken roti: $8.50/20 ounces

Monday to Wednesday noon to 9 pm, Thursday to Saturday 11 am to 10 pm. Closed Sunday, some holidays. Unlicensed. Cash only. Access: barrier-free, no washrooms, counter seating.

3. Bacchus Roti Shop

1376 Queen W, at Brock, 416-532-8191.

There are only two types of roti authorities – those who swear by Ali’s down the block and those who prefer this long-running Parkdale institution. Forget the Restaurant Makeover decor. Come for Guyanese-style curried chicken kicked with turmeric gravy and a touch of hot pepper wrapped in gently grilled house-made whole wheat paratha. But whatever you do, hold the cheese.

Boneless chicken roti: $9/20 ounces

Tuesday to Saturday 11 am to 9 pm. Closed Sunday, Monday, holidays. Licensed. Access: barrier-free.

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4. Ali’s Roti Shop

1446 Queen W, at Close, 416-532-7701.

Though this much-loved Parkdale spot gets its foodie rep for rotis stuffed with the exotic likes of Trini-style roast duck and conch, it’s Ali Aligour’s back-to-basics versions that keep regulars coming back for more, especially diced chicken thighs with potato, chickpeas and both fresh thyme and coriander in a whole lotta curried gravy. Eat them carefully with a knife and fork or you’ll end up wearing them.

Boneless chicken roti: $7.75/21.8 ounces

Daily 10:30 am to 10:30 pm. Unlicensed. Cash only. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement.

5. Tasty’s

4 Elm, at Yonge, 416-916-7888.

See Rate-A-Roti, this page.

Monday to Friday 11 am to 9 pm, Saturday 11 am to 8 pm, Sunday and holidays 11 am to 6 pm. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free, no washrooms.

6. Albert’s Real Jamaican Foods

542 St. Clair W, at Vaughan, 416-658-9445, albertsrealjamaicanfoods.ca.

Now ensconced in fancy new digs directly around the corner, Albert Wiggins’s island-style fast food joint has been packing them in since the 80s. Here’s why: amply stuffed dal puri loaded with pink deboned chicken thigh, chunky potato and a scattering of chickpeas. You want gravy? Order it separately, mon.

Boneless chicken roti: $8/24 ounces

Sunday to Wednesday 10:30 am to midnight, Thursday 10:30 am to 3 am, Friday and Saturday 10:30 am to 4 am. Unlicensed. Cash only. Access: two short steps at door, washrooms on same floor.

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7. Island Foods

1182 King W, at Dufferin, 416-532-6298, island-foods.com.

Though it’s now down to only two locations – three if you count the CNE’s Food Building – this 37-year-old island-style cafeteria has legions of loyal customers. They return time and again for slabs of dry chicken breast and potato in a vibrant curried gravy spiked with bits of thyme on flaky paratha. Fools for fowl go for the intensity of bone-in thighs instead. Also: 1310 Don Mills, at Chipping, 416-487-7717.

Boneless chicken roti: $6.65/19 ounces

Monday to Saturday 11 am to 9 pm. Closed Sunday. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free.

8. Caribbean Roti Palace

744 Bathurst, at Bloor, 416-533-7466, rotipalace.com.

Yaseen and Iqbal Hosein have been serving cash-strapped students since 1988, the specialty of the house their budget-minded dal puri pockets chock-a-block with a mildly intoxicating mix of both sweetly stewed Trini-style chicken breast and thigh and a minimum of potato. Pass the hot sauce!

Boneless chicken roti: $7/17.3 ounces

Monday to Thursday 11 am to 9 pm, Friday 11 am to 10 pm, Saturday 11 am to 9 am. Closed Sunday, holidays. Unlicensed. Access: two steps at door, washrooms in basement.

9. Ritz Caribbean

450 Yonge, at College, 416-934-1480.

See Rate-A-Roti, this page.Monday to and Saturday 11 to 11 pm, Sunday 11 am to 9 pm. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free, not washrooms.

At Mashud Siddique's Vena's, rotis get stuffed with big chunks of chicken thigh.

Steve Payne

10. Vena’s

1263 Bloor W, at Lansdowne, 416-532-3665.

A couple of years ago we wouldn’t have argued with the neon sign out front: “Best roti in town.” Today we’re not so sure, when great chunks of hacked-up thigh accompany oddly sliced potato in a weird orange gravy in a just-okay paratha. And what used to take 15 minutes to prepare from scratch now takes five.

Boneless chicken roti: $8 (tax-included)/ 21.75 ounces

Daily 10 am to 8 pm. Unlicensed. Cash only. Access: one step at door, no washrooms.

11. Coconut Grove

183 Dundas W, at Chestnut, 416-348-8887.

See Rate-A-Roti, page 43.Monday to Friday 10 am to 8 pm, Saturday 11 am to 7 pm. Closed Sunday, holidays. Unlicensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement.

12. Gandhi

554 Queen W, at Bathurst, 416-504-8155, gandhicuisine.ca.

This highly regarded take-away’s butter chicken roti ($11.95) gets all the press, but its dumbed-down bird-only version lacks the former’s intense flavour. We’re guessing it’s the missing butter.

Boneless chicken roti: $8.85/28.5 ounces

Monday to Friday 11:30 am to 10 pm. Closed Saturday, Sunday, holidays. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free, no washrooms.

13. Real Jerk

709 Queen E, at Broadview, 416-463-6055, therealjerk.com.

Ed and Lily Pottinger are synonymous with Caribbean cuisine in Toronto, having first set up shop at Queen and Greenwood back in 1984. Since then, they’ve built a deserved rep for solid grub – see their gently curried chicken ‘n’ potato in crumbly chickpea dal puri – in a riotous room that turns any meal into a celebration. Also: 93 Woodstream, at Hwy 7, 905-856-5375.

Boneless chicken roti: $7.50/18 ounces

Monday and Tuesday 11:30 am to 10 pm, Wednesday and Thursday 11:30 am to 11 pm, Friday 11:30 am to midnight, Saturday 1 pm to midnight, Sunday 2 to 10 pm. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement.

14. Ackee Tree

170 Spadina, at Queen, 416-866-8730, ackeetree.com.

See Rate-A-Roti, page 43.

Monday to Thursday 11 am to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday 11 am to 11 pm, Sunday noon to 8 pm. Licensed. Access: four steps at door, washrooms on same floor.

15. Patty King

187 Baldwin, at Kensington, 416-977-3191.

See Rate-A-Roti, page 42.

Monday to Thursday 8 am to 7:30 pm, Friday 8 am to 7:45 pm, Saturday 7:30 am to 7 pm Sunday and holidays 9 am to 7 pm. Unlicensed. Cash only. Access: one step at door, no washrooms.

Top 5 Veggie Rotis

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1. Pam’s Caribbean Cuisine

912 Bloor W, at Ossington, 416-533-3588.

Unlike most of her competition, Pam Singh takes her veggies and herbs seriously. Those she doesn’t grow in her nearby backyard she sources from the Dufferin Grove organic farmers’ market. And it shows in paratha rotis thick with diced carrot, long green beans and chickpeas teased with fresh thyme and a tickle of fiery Scotch bonnet pepper.

Veggie roti: $8.50/20.5 ounces

Monday to Wednesday noon to 9 pm, Thursday to Saturday 11 am to 10 pm. Closed Sunday, some holidays. Unlicensed. Cash only. Access: barrier-free, no washrooms, counter seating.

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2. One Love Vegetarian

854 Bathurst, at London, 416-535-5683, oneloveveg.com.

Would that Ikeila Wright’s Jamaican pumpkin roti packed the punch of her incendiary vegan pepper-pot soup. Oh, the heat still builds – if somewhat more slowly – but the focus here is less on fireworks and more on farm-fresh flavours and house-made whole wheat dal puri washed down with potent house-brewed ginger beer.

Veggie roti: $8.99/21.4 ounces

Tuesday to Friday 11 am to 9 pm, Saturday 11 am to 6 pm. Closed Sunday, Monday, holidays. Unlicensed. Access: one step at door, no washrooms.

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3. Bacchus Roti Shop

1376 Queen W, at Brock, 416-532-8191.

Yes, they’ll put cheese on your order if you insist, but Dick and Suzanne Bacchus deserve credit for being the first to incorporate more vegetables than potato in a roti. Witness their mighty combo of spinach, squash and chickpeas, all in a lightly grilled low-fat whole wheat paratha.

Veggie roti: $9/23.9 ounces

Tuesday to Saturday 11 am to 9 pm. Closed Sunday, Monday, holidays. Licensed. Access: barrier-free.

4. Vena’s

1263 Bloor W, at Lansdowne, 416-532-3665.

Now that several other roti shops have jumped on the veggie bandwagon, this west-side vet’s meat-free wraps don’t seem nearly as extraordinary as they once did. Wrapped in house-made paratha, the combo of fibrous butternut squash, al dente chickpeas and the occasional leaf of wilted lettuce is still far more health-conscious than most.

Veggie roti: $8 (tax-inclusive)/23.6 ounces

Daily 10 am to 8 pm. Unlicensed. Cash only. Access: one step at door, no washrooms.

5. Gandhi

554 Queen W, at Bathurst, 416-504-8155, gandhicuisine.ca.

Blame the lidded aluminum container these Indo-inspired rotis are served in for rendering their house-made skins doughy. Slightly bitter, over-puréed spinach and lumps of cheese only add to the general mush. Delicious mush, mind.

Saag paneer roti: $9.95/27 ounces

Monday to Friday 11:30 am to 10 pm. Closed Saturday, Sunday, holidays. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free, no washrooms.

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